Cutting with care

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

Cutting with care

Since 1990 Northumberland County Council has struggled to deliver services because of a funding formula which does not deliver the kind of support needed to meet the needs of our communities. Changes by the Labour Government did not solve that problem. It is no surprise that the new Government has targeted support for local councils as they seek to find over £6billion of cuts this year. Most of what councils spend comes from government grants.

The truth is that Northumberland faces cuts to the budget already agreed for this year – potentially of £10 million according to the Chief Executive. Since 2008 there have been massive cuts in Northumberland’s spending and staffing. That will continue. A reduction in the most senior management posts has been agreed and that will work its way through to other staff.

I believe that the council’s first duty is to deliver decent and cost effective services. We have already seen the impact of financial pressures; the closure of Amble Day Centre and continuing questions over the future of the local council office for example.

Northumberland faces particular challenges: we have an ageing population and falling school rolls. There is a desperate shortage of affordable housing to rent and buy. Our key industries like fishing are under huge pressure. Councillors of all political views know just how difficult a situation we face. I hope we are able to make an effective case for Northumberland.

Bus services
The biggest changes in our bus services in years are now in place. I welcome the fact that the County have decided to subsidise the 472 service to Alnwick and understand Arriva’s argument that linking Amble with South East Northumberland will make our services viable – this is important when subsidies are likely to be reduced. Buses are a lifeline for many. I would welcome your views on the new services and particularly any problems or gaps that you think need to be considered.

Robert Arckless

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